Aral Balkan Calls For New Funding Models to Support Ethical Tech
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A great chat on FLOSS Weekly regarding alternate funding models to support ethical tech projects. Doc Searls and Dan Lynch sat with Aral Balkan of Small Technology Foundation as he argued the venture capital model dooms most startups to unethical business practices in Silicon Valley. Balkan explained that founders of tech projects essentially "sell the exit" to investors from day one. With revenue growth being the driving metric, most companies get acquired by tech giants like Facebook and Google.
To build truly ethical tech alternatives, Balkan believes different incentives and success criteria are needed. He suggested governments fund projects focused on public good rather than profit, allowing them to iterate like startups without pressure to "exit." Is this possible?
Balkan cited his own Small Technology Foundation as an example - with crowdfunding and personal savings funding development so far. He hopes to eventually sustain operations through affordable paid hosting while avoiding reliance on fickle political funding.
Both Doc Searls and Dan Lynch agreed the commons couldn't rely on VC, thinking innovatively about sustaining ethical tech. Searls noted some community interest companies balance profit with purpose, and Lynch highlighted successful non-profits like the Open Rights Group.
It was a great conversation centered on reimagining how we value and fund technology to prioritize people over growth and profit. Balkan provided an urgent call to action to avoid extinction at the hands of unchecked capitalism.